I would like you to close your eyes and observe the weight of the body and the spine nice and tall. Feel the heaviness drawing you down grounding you and connecting to this moment this body and this breath. Now turn your attention inside and observe any sensations in the body. Noticing breath….slowing down. By using breath and yoga you are working from the outside in to help find a more calm and relaxed state. The physical body has a direct effect on the emotional body. As we slow down and soften our minds we become more relaxed and calm. Breathing in slowly through the nose allowing yourself to take more space and soften as you exhale. The breath can help us relieve tension and soften the physical body helping to find some expanded space.
Breathing through just the nose is a calming breath which helps to regulate the nervous system. Often our breath becomes erratic when the mind is full this can produce stress and anxiety. Give your mind permission to let go of unnecessary thought or worries, and unhelpful thought patterns of anxiety or stress. According to Saleem (2015); powerful effects of meditation and/or mindfulness on the brain are often subjects of medical studies and new scientific research which is released daily about the practice’s neurological benefits.
The breath can help us relieve tension and soften the physical body helping to find some expanded space.
Relaxation Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. In times of high stress and anxiety, our bodies tend to constrict and tighten. When we experience the relaxation benefits of yoga; we can lower our physical tension, which helps release the grip that anxiety can have on us. Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centers the nervous system.
Studies have shown that yoga and meditation decrease stress, depression, and anxiety while increasing happiness and the overall quality of life. The most important benefits of yoga are its application in relieving stress, fatigue, invigoration and vitality, and its anti-aging properties and its application for relaxation therapy. This is because concentrating on the postures and the breath acts as a powerful form of meditation. Yoga helps to increase strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance, which also translates into an increased ability to perform activities, have more energy and get a more restful sleep.
Yoga and meditation slow down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. Since stress is implicated in so many health problems from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, physical imbalances, and heart attacks; if you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier. The beauty of Yoga and meditation is that it can be practiced by anyone. Consult with your physician if you have medical issues prior to starting a yoga practice.
Sarah Ryder, Manager of The Hammock LLC
Saleem, R. (2016). Yoga Benefits for Health. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 3(3), 2nd ser. Retrieved June 9, 2018, from http://oaji.net/articles/2016/1170-1461153468.pdf
Sarah is a registered occupational therapist at The Hammock LLC. With over 30 years of OT experience and extensive training, Sarah continues to expand her education and is currently pursuing Health and Wellness Coaching at Maryland University. In her personal life, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors but also enjoys life’s little pleasures of pedicures, massages and chocolate.